About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) presents information on injecting equipment provision (IEP). This includes the number of outlets, attendances and the types of injecting equipment distributed to people who used illicit drugs (including Novel Psychoactive Substances and Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs) in Scotland in 2022/23.

On 9 October 2023, following quality assurance sign off from boards and publication of 'Injecting equipment provision in Scotland 2022 to 2023', a data quality issue was reported to PHS relating to NHS Orkney's attendance and needle and syringe figures for year 2022/23. The board had previously reported 0 attendances; however, this figure should be 94 attendances.  Previously 0 was reported for needles and syringes but this figure should be 3,580. Comparison shows this makes a negligible difference to published Scotland-level figures for 2022/23 with no change in the interpretation of the figures. Therefore, these figures will be update in a planned revision in the next release of the publication in Autumn 2024 but in the meantime should be taken into consideration when interpreting the Scotland and NHS Orkney figures for year 2022/23. If you have any further questions please contact phs.drugsteam@phs.scot.

Main points

In 2022/23:

  • There were 330 IEP outlets in Scotland. This was a 3% increase compared to 2021/22.
  • There were 132,447 attendances reported by IEP outlets, 9% fewer than in 2021/22 (146,137). There has been a gradual decrease in attendances each year since 2014/15 (328,329 attendances).
Image caption Injecting Equipment Provision Attendances in Scotland; 2015/16 to 2022/23
  • Approximately 2.3 million needles and syringes were distributed. This was 5% lower than in 2021/22 (approximately 2.5 million) and continues the decreasing trend observed over the last seven years (2015/16: approximately 4.7 million).
  • Wipes or swabs (approximately 2.1 million), foil (approximately 1.8 million) and citric acid or vitamin C (approximately 1.7 million) were the most distributed items of other injecting equipment. The numbers of foil items increased by 4% compared to the previous year, whilst fewer items of wipes or swabs, and citric acid or vitamin C were distributed than in 2021/22 (approximately 2.2 million wipes or swaps and 1.8 million citric acid or vitamin C).
  • Following the implementation of COVID-19 mitigation measures (for example, temporary changes in the availability of IEP services due to staff absence and asking service users to attend IEP services less often), an increase in the number of needles and syringes distributed per attendance was seen in 2020/21 (16.8). The number of needles and syringes distributed per attendance continued to be roughly the same in 2021/22 (16.7) and 2022/23 (17.6).


The purpose of injecting equipment provision is harm reduction. The provision of injecting equipment is effective in reducing injecting risk behaviours in people who use drugs. This intervention helps prevent the transmission of blood borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV among people who inject drugs.

IEP outlets are asked to report on the number of attendances, the number of needles and syringes, and items of other injecting equipment distributed. PHS are aware of some issues with data quality and completeness due to inconsistencies in reporting across NHS Boards. For more details, see Appendices A1.1 and A1.2 in the full report available from the publication page.

Find out more

The next release of this publication will be in autumn 2024.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact Nicole Jarvie at phs.drugsteam@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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